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☆ Well, again I'm having to say something about how long it's been since I've written in my journal. For weeks I had a half written post about TBRU that never got off the ground. Partly it was due to stress at work and trying to get through tax season, and now that's over, thankfully. It may not have been as hard as we thought, but it's definitely been a stressful time at work. Otherwise I just haven't been so inspired to write and have been lazy, watching TV in my spare time.

Lets face it, TBRU can be boiled down to a few things. There was great people there, I did my best to stay out of crowds and kept the drama to a minimum. That's not to say that going to Six Flags during Spring Break was not frustrating with the long lines and rude people, but luckily the guys I went with were good company. Also, the Battlestar Galactica finale went great and it was fun to have fellow geeks come over to watch. It made viewing it much more of an event. The finale itself was good, not great, but I think there was a lot of expectations. I saw people I knew and was glad to see them, and met a couple of new people, mostly introduced by people I knew since I'm too shy to go meet them myself.

☆ I'll just a paragraph or five about politics here. I think Obama and his administration are doing fine. Sure, I don't agree with everything he does, but I do appreciate that he seems to be able to plan for the long term and doesn't get caught up in the day-to-day news cycle. Politicians are often too reactionary (see AIG bonuses) and try to respond too often to what the polling shows rather than getting out there and making real plans. I find it refreshing.

The tax day tea parties were ridiculous. What began as a libertarian thing suddenly became some way for disenfranchised Republicans to find a voice, but the problem with that voice is that it seems to find outrage but no substance or solutions. For many people there they seemed to be outraged, but didn't quite know what they were outraged about. Of course you have Fox News out there, actually adding their name to the event. If my parents ever try to tell me that Fox News is balanced again, all I have to do is point to this moment where the right-wing network didn't report the news, but tried to be an event organizer. While I don't find much in the way of objective journalism from any of the cable news outlets, I can't see either CNN or MSNBC trying to actually create a movement for their benefit. For anyone on fox who wants to remain a journalist, it's time to leave.

Funny that these tea bag protests about spending come after several years of Republicans raising deficits while Bush was in office. All this sturm and drang only seems to come around now that they are out of power. I'll take your message as seriously as I do the Code Pink housewives.

Oh, and our governor here in Texas, Rick Perry, is worried about a primary fight against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson next year, so naturally he decides to go to these tea party events to campaign. He's a complete idiot, but he knows the Republican Party here is a bunch of rabid fools (Just check out the Texas Republican Party Platform) so he knows he has to play to these guys. Kay is much more the moderate, and she would do better in a general election, but it will be harder for her to win the primary.

So Governor Good Hair, as we call him, goes out to start talking about Texas shouldn't be ruled by Washington, that states are sovereign and we need to look at secession from the US. Great! Just what we need here is an idiot telling us that we should leave the US. If we left the US, the US would also leave us. Do you think Texas would keep the US companies that headquarter here? Do you think that the US military would just leave all there equipment to us? Do you realize that there isn't a large enough bank based in the state to do commerce with? We are so tied into the US, that...why am I even arguing this, our governor is an idiot.

☆ Lastly, tomorrow we head out to LA for our cruise. I'm excited about going out to see a Dodger game tomorrow night and Saturday getting on the ship for a Mexican Riviera cruise. It's the Lazy Bear cruise, so there should be lots of good people on the ship. chris was on this same cruise a couple of years ago - as were a couple of other LJer's. I'll admit that I am not excited about any of the ports of call, but it will be nice to relax and get away from it all.

I'm packing, trying to get everything I need into one suitcase. You'd think going away for a week wouldn't require so much, especially going to somewhere warm, but I'm struggling to keep the bag under 50 pounds. Luckily this cruise I don't have to bring formal wear.

I have been on one other all-gay cruise, and that was the one to Alaska in 2007. I liked that one because people were dressed a little more warmly, but I see this cruise as a little more body competitive - beaches and pools and such. I'm sure there will be several people in skimpy swimsuits both on and off the ship. I'm already in my mindset that I will be the largest guy on the ship and won't want to be out at the pool area. Hopefully this feeling will change and I'll be able to let go and have a good time, but I'll tell you, it's easy to feel that you are very unattractive going into something like this.

Still I can't just stay in our little cabin all vacation long. This will be odd for me because I'm always looking for things to do on vacation but this one seems to be more about doing nothing. I hope I don't go crazy with boredom as I can't think of any of these ports that I want to explore, or anything. I'll be missing my internet access, too. I'm guessing I'm going to be on deck reading a book quite often. We will see how it goes.

Now if I can just cram all these T-Shirts in the bag!

☆ Oh, and it's possible that California's Supreme Court will rule on marriage next week. I guess we'll see if our marriage is still valid (in selected states) or not. We'll be without internet, but I'm sure we will hear the news on the ship. not that I'm expecting it, but if they rule for marriage equality that is going to be one big party boat.
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It's been a busy few days as we got to year end. Chris met more members of my family this weekend as my parents were in town for the funeral of my great-uncle on my mother's side. Chris didn't go to the funeral, it would have been awkward since he hasn't met that part of the family, but he did get to meet my aunt Suzanne who was up for the funeral. We met for lunch before the funeral.

The funeral itself was boring. Two funerals in a short span is a bit rough. However, it's more of an expectation when it's a 95 year old man that it is for someone who was three years older than yourself. My great-uncle's son (my cousin of some sort) is a lawyer and both father and son were members of Sigma Chi, so the reception has the feeling of being at a Republican convention...including women with high hair.

Chris also got to meet my great-aunt on my father's side, Ojeda. She is always a hoot, a chain-smoking, margarita-drinking hoot. We had a nice dinner with her and my folks on Sunday.

One of the good things at the end of this past year was hearing that my dad has a clean bill of health after his prostate cancer surgery. He's not healing as fast as he'd like, but the prognosis is good.

Chris and I both had to work on New Years Eve, but we did go out last night, first checking in at [livejournal.com profile] soonercubntx's apartment for a movie, then off to the biggest bear party in town, the shindig at Mark and Ami's ([livejournal.com profile] amisadeh). It's the fourth year we've gone to the party, and I think this year's was great. I'm sure it was the largest turnout they've had There were people visiting from all over. Near midnight the house was packed, and it's one of the best looking and friendliest crowds you'll see.

Now normally a crowd like that gets me running for a far corner, but this year I felt good, confident and occasionally even sexy. It was nice, and it made it easy for me to strike up some conversations here and there with bears known and unknown.

One of the best moments for me was running into someone who had just recently come back to Dallas after living elsewhere for the last couple of years. He was very complementary to me saying that he noticed the weight-loss I've had over the last couple of years. It's good to know that it's paying off.

I would like to shop for some new clothes. I haven't dropped so much that I can't wear what I have, but I do find some of my biggest shirts are just that, big, and I need a size smaller in belts as I'm on the last hole. I'm hesitant because I want to make sure I keep this shape and don't backtrack. I've been very good about working out regularly and I need to keep that up in 2008.

Of course the other reason I'm not buying new clothes right now is I'm very cheap. I've seen some 50% clearance sales this week, but I'm waiting for the 75% off sales. Why any one shirt costs over $30 I'll never know.

Not so much happening today. I cooked up some cinnamon rolls from a can and we started the year in trivia off right playing at BW3 in the middle of all of the bowl watching football fans. Then it's enjoying another Worlds Strongest Man marathon. Otherwise, its back to the grind tomorrow.
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I've said it before, but my doctor fully believes in better living through chemistry. Over the last few years of seeing him, I never seem to get away without getting some new prescription for something. Over the last year I've been taking two pills, one for cholesterol and one for blood pressure, even though I'm just in the high normal range for both.

He's also got me sticking myself with a little pen that has a diabetes medicine that he has me take more for the supposed weight-loss benefits than trying to actually control my sugars - though it does both! Of course, the CPAP machine was also supposed to help me lose weight.

I was disappointed that when I went into his office and was weighed, the scale showed me at 20 pounds over where I thought I was. I knew I wasn't wearing twenty pound shoes, so I actually had them calibrate the scale. That's when I learned that our gym scale totally lies. Sure, the gym scale is wildly inconsistent, but even the median weight was wrong - and that just made me mad.

Chris nicely says it must be muscle mass. I appreciate that, though I haven't seen it. I think my body is resistant to change.

Still, I thought I had come out of it with only the status quo of paycheck killing drugs until he got the labs back.

For some reason he hinted at something in his questioning phase of the physical, asking if I have been experiencing regular "morning wood." This is where it's nice to have a gay doctor and not feel odd about the question as we've discussed sexual things before, but this question I thought had more to do with blood pressure and sugars than anything else.

Nope, he was checking up on the aging issue. Now with the onset of 40, a whole host of new questions and tests come along. Part of the lab work included a prostate test where I did fine, and a testosterone test. When I called in about the lab results he said I was experiencing a drop in testosterone. He said as you get older the pituitary gland clicks a switch and turns off much of the production of such stuff.

He said I had dropped to about a quarter of a normal level. I'm not sure if that's a normal level for a 40-year-old, or for men in general.

So here it is, the newest drug designed to make sure I have abundant morning wood, I guess. It's called AndroGel, and I think it's what Mark McGwire was on for a few years. Right?

The odd thing is that it is a gel that I have to put on my belly or arms, but not on my chest. Don't these people know I want better pecs?

So there you have it. I'm now on steroids. Maybe finally I'll start seeing some better results from those workouts and be the muscle bear I've always wanted to be, and the total stud I wish I was. Aren't drugs great?

Of course there's a long list of possible side effects, including increased breast growth and discomfort (?), and prostate enlargement. Yikes. Of course it said it can also lead to sleep apnea. I've already gotten that naturally, so I guess I'm OK there.

Needless to say, I am a little worried about this. I was expecting more of a pill solution, and while yeah, I'd like to stay "young and virile", I'm not totally on board with this solution yet. I'll be watching the results very carefully.

What I can't wait for is the 'roid rage. Chris is going to have to make sure he doesn't bring up the man boobs now!
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There's a couple of things I've always wanted, but in my life have not been able to achieve.

The first one is a backyard pool. I've always wanted one, but the parents would never go for it. For most of my years we lived in neighborhoods that had a pool for all, or at least those that paid the membership dues, but never one just for us. There's also the apartment pools, some were better, and cleaner than others, but still, anyone could come use it.

Here at the townhouse, there's a neighborhood pool, and last year it was closed for most of the year because of problems with the homeowner's association. I find that I haven't thought about it much this year. It's not the best pool, as the people stone around the pool is coming apart, and it hurts your feet. I've also gotten spoiled with the people who have pools cleaned with salt, rather than chlorine. It's so nice swimming in water that isn't bleaching you as you go.

I know, keeping the damned thing clean would be one of the biggest problem. I'm a lazy procrastinator and I know I'd have to be pushed to go get the leaves, but then again, I hate swimming with leaves, so there's definitely and incentive.

This would mean a new house - so you see the charges are mounting up here. There's obviously no quick fix here, but since I love to swim, and love the water, it's still something I want. There's always the advantage of hosting an occasional few friends to come swim, too.

Heck, right now I'd be somewhat satisfied by having a hot tub, but there really isn't room for that here, either. I guess we'll have to work on getting some money together and getting a large whirlpool tub when we decide to make over the bathroom.

Another thing I'd love to have is a convertible. For years I wanted a soft-top VW Rabbit (later known as the Cabriolet) or a Jeep Wrangler. I eventually decided that neither one were practical for me, as I needed a solid car for long distances, but I knew if I ever was able to buy a second car, it would be a convertible.

The only problem is, there's pretty much two kinds of convertibles tiny two seaters, and large whales. I can't fit in the former, and I don't need the bad gas mileage of the latter. It's a moot point as i can't aford it anyway.

In more reasonable news, We've booked everything for our Alaskan Cruise - trying to bargain shop, but not totally go on the cheap. I write this to see if anyone else would still like to join us on the cruise...come on, you know you want to!

I finished up Harry Potter tonight, and no one spoiled me on the ending. Very good! it was interesting reading it as Chris played songs from the Wicked soundtrack.

Oh, one more thing I want - I want to be rid of my acne! Hasn't it been long enough? I keep clean!
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This morning there was a gorgeous double rainbow that was hovering over SH 114. It was there all the way out to the Work Ranch before finally getting swallowed up by a deluge.

I took the picture above, hoping to capture some of it, but all I had was my extremely awful phone. The phone's camera takes terrible pictures, and the battery barely holds a charge. I so need to buy a new phone. Anything coming out soon?

As far as weather goes around here, it seems we can't go a few days without it raining. After last year's talk about the drought, this year it's raining buckets and flooding the town like I still lived in Houston. Al the lakes they said were down have filled up, and all the wetlands are wet again.

I blame El Nino. That kid causes all the weather problems.

Otherwise, after failing to get it done over the weekend, I finally did get my haircut - at the mall. Yes, if Supercuts wasn't bad enough, there's always the el cheapo mall haircut. It wasn't even that cheap, actually.

The stylist really made me wish I had our ADD bear cutting again. At least he's fun to listen to and flirt with. this guy, he could cut hair, but he kept going on and on trying to tell jokes. Here's a sample: "Why did OJ Simpson want to move to Arkansas? He heard they all have the same DNA." Theses are jokes they wouldn't let you tell on Death Row.

I've had a lot of different haircutters, most of them are good about talking, or better yet, not talking. Personally, I'm not there to chat. If I had a regular stylist, yes, I could see striking up more of a conversation, but when I don't know you, and I'm just looking for a haircut, I don't need your open mike routine.

Since I go to cheap places for haircuts, most of the staff revolves quickly, so you rarely get the same person. it would be nice to have a regular stylist. I think the one I had for the longest time was Ms. Mixon, who worked at the barbershop in Conroe. No frills, that one. Still, she retired after a couple of years when we moved there, and then it was on to any and every cutter in the Supercuts universe.

I've paid over $30 for a haircut once, and I was so upset that the stylist wouldn't actually listen to me, that I decided I didn't need to go there again. I don't think for $30 you're really giving away your rights as a customer.

My hairstyle is simple, and rarely changes, and I like it like that.
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Chris' flight back from San Francisco was delayed and hour and a half, so I have to wait until midnight to go pick him up. Thanks American Airlines.

Still, I had plenty of time to watch the start of Top Chef 3, which was good. I like Dale, but I think he's going home really fast. It's not Project Runway, but it certainly is a favorite, and probably the best thing on this summer. I'll say that until the new series of Doctor Who starts up.

I'm at a bit of a fashion crossroads. For the last several years I've been wearing boxer shorts - mostly the heavier cotton boxers from Big Dogs that have the embarrassing sayings embroidered on them. This is all well and good, but I find now that my body must be changing a bit, and these things ride up in ways i don't find goo or amusing. i guess all the workouts on the elliptical machine are starting to pay off with my butt and thighs.

So I'm just not enjoying the boxers anymore, thought they do make great loungewear. I recently bought some boxer-briefs from UnderArmour. they sell some larger sizes on their website, and they feel great - a little snug, but it's great for my workouts. Working out in the boxers, well, that was just stupid.

So the UnderArmour boxer-breifs are good with all of that sleek feeling that makes me feel a little sexy even, but the underwear is a little expensive. Yeah, the Big Dogs boxers weren't that cheap either, but they have lasted a long time and they are often on sale. Buying off UnderArmour's website means no sales and a shipping charge. I need something cheaper for more of an everyday kind of thing.

Here's the question, who makes good boxer-breifs that I can easily get in a 2X (or maybe 3X, depending on fit)? I looked at the JCPenny website and didn't like anything they had. I have a couple of pairs of old Hanes Boxer-breifs when Target used to carry my size, many years ago. their fine, but I can't even find them on the Hanes website.

Let's face it, I loathe shopping at Casual Male. Dillards has no-name underwear, and little of it in stock, and even worse, seems to have stopped having sales on their Big and Tall clothing all together. Does someone have a supplier I don't know about?

Last question, does anyone know where I can get square-cut swim trunks? Am I just too big to show off like that? Maybe so, but I'd at least like to try it if I can find it. Come on guys, where do you go shop for this stuff!?
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I've been meaning to get back to my Boston recap, but sometimes life just gets in the way.

Chris and I went out to Tin Star, one of our favorite places for dinner tonight. Since I've got a cold that's working overtime (love those post-flight colds, my ears are still stopped up), so we decided to forgo a bigger, fancier dinner for a time where I might be actually able to taste it.

So we ordered and went to the soda fountain and got our drinks. As we chose a table I could see that there was a small group of free-range children hanging out at a table. They were staring at me. Especially the littlest one who was probably 4 or 5. I could here that they were whispering something.

Of course I've heard this before. Young kids are generally very frank and honest, since they haven't been given those filters. I'd be surprised if any of you big boys didn't know how this feels, as you can tell they see you as different.

I could hear him talking to his brother and sister and whispering that there was this fat guy in his vicinity. His siblings agreed I could tell, but they weren't quite as vocal about it. there was a bit of giggling and I could feel them staring at me. The youngest one finally decided to address me directly, stating loudly, "Wow, You're really FAT!!"

I turned around, looked at the youngest one directly and said, "Yes, I am fat, and you're parents are awful."

I surprised all the kids by responding. Yes, I was a little harsh with the parent's remark. Still, I was certainly willing to forgive the kid's youth, but yes, I was affected by the remark. Kids do have a way of laying you out. Chris was surprised by the whole thing and knew I was hurt although I was trying to brush it off.

The kids scrambled back to their parents table and there was some talk going on over there. I would guess that the kids were defending/covering up for the youngest, and since the kids were ready to leave, the parents were getting up to go as well. Chris was rather concerned that there wasn't a move made by the parents to apologize. I chalked it up to the normal Plano types...not really concerned about anyone but themselves. Out they went, and I got on with my meal.

I have to admit that I kind of wished the boy would grow up to be a chubby chaser. Bitter? Maybe a little.

I saw that the family was taking a long time getting into the car, hanging around the parking lot outside the restaurant. We were about half way through the meal when I saw the mother and the youngest child come back in. The kid looked like he had had a talking to, and looked like he had been crying. The mother came to me and said, "I'm sorry, but I have heard that our son said something offensive to you." It was a bit of an awkward phrase, but there was the hint that she did not know what had happened.

I said that yes, their was something said, and she turned to the boy and said, "What do we say? You need to look him in the eye and tell him you're sorry. The boy did not want to do it. It was a humiliation of the worst kind, and i wasn't sure if he really understood what he did, or was just upset by the punishment. After a little more coaxing he finally turned towards me and gurgled out, "sorry."

I looked at him and said thank you, just plain and simple. He quickly turned away. His mother said that she didn't know about the incident until they got out into the parking lot. apparently one of the other kids tattled on him. I thanked her as well, and she turned and left. All in all, an unusual ending for the evening.

Like I've said, this isn't the first time it's happened, but I think it was the first time that the parent came back and had the kid apologize like that. Other times, if the parent is in earshot they might say a quick "sorry", and off they go, sometimes embarrassed, sometime not.

I guess I feel a little better about Plano families right now.
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Just one of those things that many people will never understand...

The lovely feeling of your back hair gently blowing in the breeze.
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Before I get into tonight's post, I'd first like to say I never want to hear this phrase again in my life - "The foreign DNA sample inside JonBenet's pants".

While Chris and I were having dinner, the television above us was featuring CNN's wall-to-wall coverage of the increasingly outlandish story, the "analyst" kept repeating the phrase over and over again, making me loose my appetite.

Alright, that's over.

Today I went to see my doctor, making it the first vacation day taken from work since I got there in January. The doc was pleased with the weight-loss, and that I'm working out. He didn't even give me a new drug, but I'm still on the old ones. Frankly I feel better and seem to be having less medical issues, so go me!

Since I had the rest of the day free, I did a few errands for my upcoming trip, and then picked up Chris who I convinced to take a half day off and go to Six Flags Over Texas with me.

What was great about heading to the park today wasn't just that the crowds were smaller, but the crowd was downright sparse because school has started up for most kids in the area. Of course the fact that it was 105 degrees probably kept people away as well.

Generally any ride we went up to, we could get on immediately. Sometimes there would be no one waiting for the next ride, and we could go again. Compared to the madness of the last days of Astroworld where I think we rode three rides for the 6 hours we were there, this was heaven.

I also managed to fit my big frame into almost every ride I wanted to be on. The notable exception was the Batman ride that required a shoulder harness, rather than a lap bar. Being big is one thing, but being big and tall makes it pretty much impossible to get that shoulder harness down, and the connecting belt affixed. I guess i still have a goal there.

Still, I was proud that i got to ride the other coasters, sometimes I was uncomfortable - like in the very bumpy Texas Giant - a wooden coaster that tries to cram you into a seat, and the hard seat dividers then slam your hips for the next 2-3 minutes. I was hurting there, and in my knees that were hitting the front of the car.

I need to loose the hips, I tell you! then I'll fit right into that small, designated area they call a seat.

Still, after the second time through on the Shock Wave, I found that I was getting sick and dizzy. Being jostled around, hot and a little dehydrated was not making me feel good at all. Suddenly I was feeling like the slow walking grandparent that only wants to sit down at the mall. Sadly most of the air-conditioned shows and restaurants were closed due to lack of teenage staff. Still, we made a go of it, continuing to slurp down water at each fountain we saw, then braving the heat. Had there been lines, I know we would have given up and gone home.

My clothes were absolutly soaked - and not from the infrequest misters around the park. When we went home, we needed a shower so neither of us would be mistaken for salt licks.

Still, a great day, and lots of fun riding rides I remember and seeing the changes in the park since I was last there - which I think was 1999. I bored Chris with plenty of recollections on how the park was in the 1970's and 80's, mostly dealing with the before PC usage of Indians attacking the French fort, scalping the settlers, and the fact they still called the southern area the Confederate area, with battle flags flying.

So we've gotten back in the coasters, now to work on fitting in them comfortably.
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✩A couple of people at work have stopped me and said that I look like I've been loosing weight. Maybe it's because I have to pull my pants up as my belts are getting loose, and I've been too cheap to get a new one (and I really like my brown belt!). Thank goodness that Texas Tax-Free weekend is coming up.

Still, two people have noticed, and that feels good - now I'm waiting for all the hotties to notice. Chris has noticed as well, but he's biased. :-)

✡Mel Gibson. What a stupid guy. If you're going to be drunk, shut up - and rent a limo. We know his thoughts on Jews, and we know that he's not really fond of the gays either, so if he pisses off the Scientologists and the Kaballists, then he's pretty well fucked in Hollywood, isn't he?

Luckily the heatwave is taking our mind off the trouble in Lebanon, which took our mind off of the trouble in Iraq, which of course took our mind off of the trouble that is Lindsey Lohan.

✪Cuba. I guess since it's been somewhat verboten for americans to travel there for the last 50 years, you really want to see what it's like. Of course I find the ads for Cuba that are in Canada interesting. Heck, they have nationalized health care - but you have to drive a car with fins (maybe not the worst trade off).

It will be interesting to see what happens as power shifts. I need to get with the couple of Cuban Americans I know to get their opinions, but is an Americanized Cuba better than just letting them finding their own path without our interference. Heck, they might not like the new Castro in town without the help of those who are now americans.

✦I'm positively giddy that there's a Hurricane Chris right now. Unfortunately Hurricane Mike won't come for a few weeks more if this global warming keeps going.

❁Dang that Angela! Will you just be Auf'ed already!?
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I’m listening to the new Dixie Chicks album, Taking the Long Way this morning as I’m here at work. It’s a really great album. Of course I was influenced into buying it because of the Chick’s political statements, and sort of “voting” with my purchase, but it really is a worthy album that won’t get any attention or praise from the mainstream country crowd.

There’s a lot of themes about loss on this album, loss of friends and support that stem from the choices one’s made. Of course there are many parallels that one could see to the Chick’s current situation, and I guess that’s good, write what you know as they say. Still, nothing is “hit you over the head” autobiographical, no “Ballad of Natalie Maines” though there is a anti-war song. Certainly the sound is a little less country, and more in tune with a general audience, as they know they’ll have to get sales from a more diverse crowd than that of your redneck crowd.

I know the Houston and Dallas stations (mostly Clear Channel controlled) have refused to play any Dixie Chicks music, but leave it to Austin to buck the trend. Give ‘em a few years, when this administration goes away, and people will likely forget.

Yes, I do feel that Natalie Maines’ statement that she takes back any apologies not only is for her sensibilities, but also to sell records, as it’s getting less risky to criticize the president these days.

I wish they were playing Austin City Limits Festival this fall. I’m also listening to Gomez’s How We Operate, and they are playing ACL, so that makes me happy!

Otherwise, I’m thinking about the fact that this was my last week as a leaseholder for my apartment in Houston. Although I turned in my keys back in February, I still had an actual lease, and rent payments until this month. Now it seems more that I don’t have a home there anymore, but it still feels like home, even though I have a great home here in Dallas.

Last night I was getting gas and a guy came up to me and asked me for some change. Normally I don’t give these guys money. It’s more of a thing that I don’t trust panhandlers, and think that there’s better ways for these folks to get help than panhandling.

Now this guy did seem to have his family, and a truck that, from what he said, lost a fan belt, so it was a bit of a different situation. Still, it wasn’t until he said, “I’m from Houston, and we’re just trying to get home,” did I finally decide to give up the two dollars I had in my pocket.

Of course, I rarely carry more than a couple of dollars in my pocket anymore, as I’m a firm believer in the debit card, but that’s just a little tangent.

I guess I still try to keep in touch with Houston a little bit, checking the Chronicle’s online website for news more than I check for news about Dallas. Of course I need my Astros updates, and it doesn’t hurt that the Chron has all of their comics available on line (except for Sundays).

I still send emails back and forth with my friend Hans, just like I used to in my old job, but now he’s often telling me about what’s going on in the city, or with the fraternity. I tend to tell him of my troubles in playing softball. I also get a few emails from my old team, telling me who else has left, or that someone has been promoted to fill the loss. I also missed watching The Amazing Race with Jerry this year. Go hippies!

I need to get back there soon and go see an Astros game, but now I’ll have to get a hotel room, or go stay with my parent’s in Conroe. I guess the bonus there is that I would get to sleep on the bed that was in my apartment. The negative is that that mattress probably should have been thrown out five years ago.

Perhaps it would be a little different had I moved farther away, like Chicago or Seattle or Boston, where the culture is different, as well as the seasons and the stores and restaurants. Dallas is still Texas, and the differences are minor. Still, I guess the homesickness would be more magnified, but there may have been more excitement, too. Some days I feel I just moved down the street.

I guess I’m hoping to carry on TV night because it’s a great way to have friends around. I’ve noticed that most of the people we hang around with are people Chris or Matty introduced me to, and while that’s not a negative thing, it’s not like I’ve exactly been making my own connections here. Then again I was mostly a loaner in Houston, too, so I guess it is good to have some one to introduce me to people, as I won’t normally do it on my own.

It’s interesting having someone else at home with you all the time. After living on my own for a few years, it’s nice to have someone to talk to, but also you have to change your mindset where it’s not all about you. Sometimes I have to think, can I watch this program, since Chris wants to see it too, or should I drink the last of the milk since Chris will probably want some for his cereal.

I find I still think like a bachelor at times, though. I haven’t learned how to grocery shop for anyone but myself (well, the fact that we’ve been eating out a lot hasn’t helped), nor have I been able to work on doing the laundry together, worried that I’ll mess something of his up, or won’t know where to put something away. I still can’t fold socks like he does. Still, I often wait for him to come home to go out to eat, and I’d rather eat with him than eat alone.

I guess I just need to keep easing into my new situation. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever done, so it more a reaction to change that makes me think about the old apartment. I miss it because it was a really nice apartment, with a nice view and decent location. Luckily Chris’ house is also well located to about everything but our jobs. It’s been a while since I’ve had a commute like this! What a waste of time!

Well, times up here at the old factory, so I guess I’ll be heading back home to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. Enough of this rumination! There’s a pool party going on this afternoon, so I need to get in a good state of mind. I also need to decide how willing I am to pull off my shirt today, as I have a large bruise on the side of my gut from a botched Byetta (medicine) injection from a few days ago. Not that I’m self conscious, or anything!
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Take this picture of me a couple of days ago...


Add our hunky barber, Oscar...


Click Here For The Results )
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So I signed up for the gym at work yesterday, and I'll probably carry a gymbag tomorrow to encourage myself to actually use the facility. Of course the place doesn't have a pool or anything, but it has circuit training machines, cardio machines, free weights locker rooms and the like. Except for tennis and racquetball courts, it's pretty much like the gym of the Houston City Club that I had a membership to for a while. Of course the city Club cost me $75 bucks a mont, and I never used the tennis courts or the dining facilities, so economically, it really wasn't a good deal.

The gym at work is $19 a month, no restrictions, quit at anytime. A pretty good deal, really. The problem is, it is a long way to drive on weekends and they only have memberships for people who work there. The other problem is that Chris can't join. It's not a discrimination thing, no partner/spouse can join, unless they also work for the company, at our campus.

Chris has been wanting to shape up a bit for a while, and has been thinking about joining a gym. Now I'm willing to participate in a joint membership because I would like to have a workout partner. It helps get me motivated. sure, it's an expense, but I think it will be good for the both of us.

Now Chris had found a coupon of sorts from the Discovery channel to test out Bally's for a few weeks, so tonight we went over there to see what the facility looked like. It's a lot further than a 24 Hour fitness location and several other privately owned gyms that are in our area. Still, there was this coupon...

now so you don't think that I haven't been around the block before, yes, I've been to a gym and gotten the sales pitch. Several years ago I went to Q, The Sports Club looking to get a gym membership, and suddenly I was being sold a package with multiple locations and options and all sorts of stuff. When they got me in their little car salesman room and wanted to get me on a contract and draft my account for three years, I knew that it was trouble, and I wanted to get out. The experience was a lot like car sales, where he even brought in his manager to "sweeten" the deal.

Here's some lines to avoid - "It pays for itself in a few months", "You can always leave after a month (but not telling you how to break the contract)", and the insulting "Well, you know you need this, how will you ever reach your goals?"

This is where you should run, not walk, out of the dealership fitness center.

So tonight we had Bobby who took us on a tour of the Bally Total Fitness location on Preston near Belt Line. The gym looked OK, and I have to admit, I liked the pool - though the smoothie bar and nutritional supplement center was unnecessary ("but you get a 25% discount on this stuff!"). Everything was going well, until we saw that we were going to go into that little sales room.

Yep, from here the spin started. Certainly we would want the full package, and we could try that out free for a month and it would give us access to many different bally's locations. Certainly this was better than the free Discovery Channel offer that would last for two weeks more than the one month offer! Oh, and we'll need your bank information for the full trial period (The one that you can quit after that month if you remember to shut down your checking account).

What was skeeving me out is that the guy kept talking and looking at me, not Chris. It was the classic couple divide and conquer technique where you sell the other partner on it and they can convince the main decision maker. Suddenly i was the easy to convince wife. I didn't much like this, and he wasn't going to get to me, because I already had a gym. It was all Chris' decision to make.

Seeing that he wasn't getting very far, he suddenly lowered the rate, though it was already on a second sheet that was already filled out with that special rate - oh, but we'd have to decide tonight, because "that rate isn't even supposed to be in the computer anymore!" Wow! Imagine our luck.

I had had enough, and pretty much shut up, while Chris tried to get another couple of questions answered, like what their real rate and enrollment fees were. Bobby, of course, deflected these inquiries. I wasn't playing the demure wife who knew we needed to get in shape, so why don't we pay this? When he asked me point blank if I needed to be working out, I said, "I'm really not making this decision, he is." I was now out of any further conversation.

Chris then asked for any paperwork we could take home, and Bobby said there wasn't any, so that pretty much sealed the deal. We asked if we could still use the "lesser" Discovery Channel trial, and leave it at that, and he begrudgingly gave us cards that we could use to get in on the freebee. Of course he shorted us a week.

Personally, I was pretty mad. I think this is the lousiest form of salesmanship around, and I wonder why this actually works with people. I know people buy cars under pressure, and they also sign these ridiculous contracts for these gyms, then never use them again, but can't get out of them. I had a co-worker who once did collections for another gym, and they were using tactics that would make loan sharks proud. Very few contracts are as iron clad as a gym membership.

I just wonder where they train these jocks on how to make these awful sales pitches. Certainly it's pretty intense, and it removes their hearts and conscience. Can you really think your really serving your customer, or just corporate greed?

Still, I'll take my fitness my way - but as Bobby says "If you don't come here at least three times a week, you'll never see results." He'd certainly know that insulting my commitment would do the trick to get us to sign. Of course, I'm convinced now. Just as convinced as I was by the guy several years ago at Q, who also told me that I had to have this, or the guy who tried to sell me a car at what ever payments were best for me without telling me the price of the car, or the APR percentage. Bobby also pulled the "so is this how much you expected to pay" line to see if we would cough up more information for his next pricing pitch. Sorry, i don't fall for the shifting price trick.

Really, if the guy had just been honest, and given reall answers, he would have gotten a lot farther. The he wouldn't have to convince the wife here of anything. We made a hasty exit after he delivered the cards to us.

Here's a tip, make sure you use your mental fitness before swimming with these sharks.
eggwards: (Give Me Money!)
✷I'm bored, but can't seem to channel the energy, or creativity to break out of it and do something. I guess I rely too much on the television to fill time, but in early January, nothing is on. I spent a few minutes actually watching some strange program on the Travel Channel where television star whore Jack Osborne tried (and succeeded) in losing weight by attempting several extreme sports. I guess this was better viewing than the continual slow reveal of Congressional corruption through fund-raising and lobbying, or the odd thought that God was madder at PM Arel Sharon for trying to create peace in the region than he would be at those who would cause instability and pain. Instead, it's the spoiled child of a aging rocker able to run around the world and get fit. Meanwhile, I eat my Whataburger.

✷Chris was talking about the possibility of getting a tattoo at some time in the future, if he ever finds that holy grail of designs. I don't know if I'm really wanting to do the same, ever. I thought about getting something with my fraternity's letters and the Animaniacs back in the early nineties, but now I'm glad I didn't do it. It's not that I don't love the frat, or Yakko, Wakko and the Warner sister, Dot, but it's not quite as red-hot as it was back then. Generally I'm not turned on by tattoos, and if there's too much, they can be a turn off. I guess this is another case of, if it doesn't excite me, why would I want to emulate it? Now piercing - that's a whole different thing. I find a few piercings very appealing, especially nipple rings and PA's, but I'm way too timid to get them myself. I'm pretty anti-pain. So I guess my body will stay whole and unadorned, for now.

✷I've picked up a few new "friends" for my reading here on LJ, and a couple of them are writers. good writers making a living of it. They are also branching out into other media, radio and television appearances because of their work in writing for magazines, books and online. I have never meet them, but I have that 3 degrees of gay separation thing going on. I'm watching their career with interest, because I want it. I wish that I could find a way to follow a similar career. Of course, it probably helps that they live in LA, but that's not where they got their start - from what I know so far.

As you can guess, it's another case of, why didn't I do that? I guess I spend too much time and effort on wondering why i don't have that life, instead of trying to look for opportunities. Still, if things go as I'm trying to plan them, I may be more concerned with having continuing employment, when planning a move, than trying to take a leap into a unknown realm.

I want to make 2006 a year that I take more risks, but now I just need to focus in and really look at what I can do, and how to implement those changes. I need to know what constitutes risk, and what is just plain crazy. Currently, I'm stuck in a rut.

Oh, and I want more sex in 2006, too. Just so you know.
eggwards: (Give Me Money!)
Well, it's almost time to go back down the road to home. It's been a great New Year's weekend with Chris, and surprisingly, I had a good time at the party on New Year's Eve. We rung in the new year well, and I hope it bodes well for the rest of 2006.

We also spent time with Carlos and Steve up in Little Elm, Texas. It's another one of those tiny towns north of Dallas that are seeing a big boom in population growth. It was interesting seeing all of the tracts of homes being laid out there. As for the Little Elm Bears themselves, they seemed very happy about their house and seem to be constantly improving it, and trying to get all of the neighbors to improve theirs, in as much as Carlos tries to landscape other people's places.

They also had the very nice Fred from Virginia in town, and we brought Oscar, so all the guys had a great New Year's brunch, and heard way too much Celine Dion.

We saw The Producers today, which was a lot of fun. Then we picked up the new glasses. Yep, normally they are done in about an hour, but get them on a busy weekend, and they are done in about two days. We even went to the mall yesterday, so I've seen enough of Stonebriar Center for a while. It was also disappointing to only see the Tupperbears (two handsome guys selling Tupperware at a mall kiosk) on Saturday, only to be replaced with some dumpy hausfrau yesterday and today. Oh well, saved me money not buying a cupcake carrier or something.

So, on to the before and after pics, courtesy of Chris ([livejournal.com profile] f__k):
Before:
After:

I'm still getting used to them, and everything looks a little off right now, but they do stay on my nose, so that's a good thing. Still, I think I'll need to trim my eyebrows more thoroughly now.

Poke Me

Nov. 29th, 2005 11:41 pm
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I got the first Christmas Card in the mail. It's not even December yet! I'm not too surprised because the guy is super fussy, but I'm surprised that he mailed it prior to Thanksgiving. I wonder when I might get mine done.


Somewhere in the middle of my drive home from a long, extended weekend with Chris, I realized that I had forgotten my medication at Chris' house. The reason for this is because it's in the refrigerator, and as much as I tried to tell myself earlier that I needed to get it out before I left, but as I got all of the other bags, and chris helped me out to the car, all that thinking was all for naught.

Miles later I started to think about the heat being on in the car, and that the medicine needed to stay cool. Then I remembered, it was cool, miles away from where I was.

The medicine is a pretty new one. my doctor seems to be a bit of a mad scientist, and loves to give me something new each time I'm at his office. I have medications for cholesterol, blood pressure, and to keep my blood sugar in control so I don't kick into full-blown diabetes. He also likes to promote this or that into curbing my appetite to help me lose weight. The results on that last one have been...mixed at best. Not totally successful might be a better review.

So, the new formula isn't a pill, for once, but instead is a pen shaped vial with 60 or so does of liquid, called Byetta. I now have to take the clear medicine twice a day, before breakfast or dinner. Over the last week, I took it before lunch, because we never seemed to get out of bed to actually make breakfast.

The big thing about this is that this medicine must be administered subdermally...in other words, I'm now stabbing myself a couple of times a day. each time I use it, I have to screw on this tiny little needle, inject myself, and take off the needle and store the "pen" back in the fridge.

I'll admit that I was surprised when my doctor spoke to me about the new medicine. I never thought I'd have to use needles, and in a way, if felt like I lost the fight with diabetes, sort of using "insulin lite". My doctor didn't actually dispel that notion, so I guess there's something to it. It's something I guess I need to take a little more seriously, even though my doctor still says that I'm just bruising with the full blow disease.

The other thing is that i have to think about this drug...it's not just a pill that I can take wherever, since it has to be refrigerated, I have to think about what to do when I want to eat out, and if I go out, after work, i have to think about going home before hand. In going to Dallas, I need to place it in a small cooler (in this case, my lunch kit I take to work), and off it goes in Chris' refrigerator, where it currently resides. I'm not sure if he knows it's still in there.

Still, I was able to go to Walgreens and get a new pen of the stuff, so I'm set for now. There's a couple of other pill bottles that I guess I'll wait to get back later. Still, this new medicine is a definite change, it's supposed to help me, and even help me lose weight and gain energy.

I think my doctor thinks this a wonder drug. I'll reserve judgment for later when I see some results. For now I have to just get stabbing myself a couple of times here and there, and to stop forgetting these things behind.

Still, I can't help feeling like someone's science project.
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Well, apparently I've been nominated for that "8 Hunks of Hanukkah" contest (No Judaism required!). While I don't believe I'll win, or even get close to the Big 8 finalists (because I don't want to spend the whole day voting for myself), it would be very, very appreciative of your vote and ego-stroke.

To encourage your vote, I'll re-run a favorite picture behind this cut )

____________________________________________________

Otherwise, today I ended up back in the dentist's chair again today. It was a regular cleaning, but my dentist likes those cleanings to happen often. He's scheduled me for every four months when most dentists wait six.

so cleaning starts and is underway. the dental assistant, the one I always get, worked on my teeth, scraping and poking and putting on junk. When she's through with that, she polishes my teeth with that swirling little thing and the gritty, funky tasting stuff. As the swirling little thing came around to the place where my teeth are reversed, suddenly I got a strong tickling sensation that was driving me crazy.

Now, just to explain, my orthodontist many years ago did something strange when I used to have braces. As he was working to straighten my teeth, the last of my permanent teeth were coming in, and my bicuspid on the top right side of my mouth was coming in on top of my canine tooth. In his effort to fix it, he placed the braces in a way that moved the bicuspid forward in my mouth, so my canine tooth is actually next in line, in front of my molars. It gives me a little valley in my row of teeth on the inside, one apparently that can be tickled.

This was an interesting revelation as I squirmed in the dentist's chair. The dental assistant at first thought I was in pain, but after I explained what had happened, she said that other people have had the same reaction.

The problem was, when I get ticklish, everything moves. I tense up and curl up. I get rather embarrassed by being ticklish, and unfortunately for me it's not hard to get me going. A part of it goes back to childhood, where my Dad would pretty much tackle me and hold me down, tickling until I couldn't breathe. While it sounded like I was having fun, in a way it was a little bit of torture, when you can't control it.

Of course a few of my friends now would think that's fantastic, as tickle torture is a part of their play. Me, not so much. I think that may be a part of why I can be a little shy about people touching me, and I may have a little larger personal space area that I defend at times. It makes me a little skittish at times.

Of course, you'd think this would also make me very sensitive, sensitive body parts and such, but it's not the case. i think mentally to try to prevent being tickled, I turn off a few things. It's odd how it works.

Of course, Chris ([livejournal.com profile] f__k) quickly found my weakness and likes to get me here and there, causing me to clench up and laugh hysterically. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to work in reverse, as I haven't found his ticklish points - if he has them. Then again as often the tickle-ee, I never really learned the art of the tickle.

Of course I'm a bit scared that I've made this public, so if any kind soul would send me a shield to push off potential ticklers, I'd be most grateful.
eggwards: (Labeled Bear)
On Wenesday as I was playing golf I looked like this:





What I wanted to look like was:



I have a little bit of work to do to look like Kevin Stadler. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bearpawly for the inspiration).

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